How to stay safe in Oxfordshire's waterways during the summer heatwave

Firefighters are issuing water safety advice to swimmers in time for the school holidays.
Firefighters are issuing water safety advice to swimmers in time for the school holidays.

Firefighters have been issuing warnings about the dangers that could be lurking in the county's waterways as the heatwave continues.

Crews have been visiting local bathing spots following the start of the school holidays. The continued heatwave has seen young people seeking to cool down in bathing areas in the county's rivers.

Swimmers have been advised that although reservoirs, lakes, rivers and other inland water look safe and inviting, there are hidden dangers below the surface that could make them ill, could hurt them, and at worst could kill them.
Even on a warm day, the temperature of the water in a reservoir, quarry or lake can remain very cold. The low water temperature can numb limbs and claim lives.
From out of the water, or above the water, swimmers may not be able to see what’s under the water. This could include large rocks, machinery, shopping trolleys, branches, fish hooks or broken fishing line.

Strong currents below the surface are also a potential problem and can carry swimmers into danger.
Around 400 people drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences.
One person dies from drowning every 20 hours in the UK. Drowning is also the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK.

A 12-year-old girl in Witney nearly lost her life during a serious incident last weekend.

Group manager Gary Coupar said: “The recent incident in Witney really hits home how things can go so wrong so quickly. As firefighters we don’t want to stop people enjoying our waters during this hot spell but we do want to ensure they understand the dangers and do it as safely as possible. Please follow the advice given by the Royal Life Saving Society and think, if you’re not 100 per cent certain it is safe, then it’s probably best not to risk it. Enjoy the hot spell whilst it last, but please be safe."

Crews will continue over the rest of the week and weekend to visit areas where they can engage with swimmers to ensure they are aware of the dangers and how they should be swimming safely.